Pedestrians walk past a Bank of America Corp. branch in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

If there's one common enemy among a divided American public, it's Wall Street. And 2016 hopefuls know this.

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 67 percent of Americans would support a president who favors stricter regulations of financial institutions on Wall Street (compared to 24 percent who want someone who opposes stricter regulations). And that stance is near-universal; there's no large variation by gender, race, age and education level.

Even a majority of Republicans say they'd approve a politician willing to get tough on the banks.


Wall Street has been a bogeyman since the 2008 recession and the federal government's subsequent bailout of several banks. According to Gallup surveys tracking Americans' confidence in the banks over time, financial institutions' reputations dropped off a cliff in 2009 and haven't picked back up to anywhere near pre-recession levels.

Gallup

One reason could be Americans feel they haven't seen any good-faith attempts from the banks to make sure another financial crisis and federal bailout doesn't happen. A 2013 Post-ABC News poll found 62 percent said banks and other financial institutions have not taken adequate measures to prevent another financial crisis in the future.

Presidential candidates seem to be well aware of this reality and are using it to their advantage.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is certainly the most vocal among 2016 hopefuls decrying the banks. But Republicans have also noticeably taken a step back from totally defending the free market -- and by extension, the banks -- in favor of calling for regulations on the largest of them.

[Raising taxes on the wealthy? Calling out income inequality? Meet the new GOP]

Front-runner Donald Trump is leading the way with a brand of economic populism that has even earned praise from liberal leader Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). He wants to cut "disgraceful" CEO pay and eliminate some tax breaks for the wealthy (while, it should be noted, cutting other taxes in a way that would benefit the wealthy).

But it's not just the unorthodox former Democrat Trump calling out the big banks.

In a speech in Berlin before announcing his presidency, former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) said big banks are still a danger to America's economy: "We have more banks with more concentrated assets in the United States, and the systematic risk is perhaps greater now than it was when the law was signed."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who once worked as an investment banker for Lehman Brothers, supports the post-recession Wall Street regulations Congress enacted, known as Dodd-Frank, for the biggest banks.

"We are regulating the big banks and, frankly, we need to," he told Fox News in August. "What they really need to do is to have -- is to have reserve requirements against the risk-taking, so that if in fact they go down, the American taxpayers don't pick [up the bill]."

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) in May stopped just short of saying big banks should be dismantled -- something that has largely been a Democratic talking point -- but said those banks "are on their own."

Republicans will always be torn between populism and free-market capitalism. But if Americans continue to overwhelmingly support reining in big banks, Huckabee might be right: Big banks are pretty much on their own this election cycle.